The motive for status maintenance and inequality in educational decisions : which of the parents defines the reference point?

Stocké, Volker

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-25471
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2007
The title of a journal, publication series: Working paper series / Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Rationalitätskonzepte, Entscheidungsverhalten und Ökonomische Modellierung
Volume: 07-20
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publication language: German
Institution: School of Law and Economics > Sonstige - Fakultät für Rechtswissenschaft und Volkswirtschaftslehre
MADOC publication series: Sonderforschungsbereich 504 > Rationalitätskonzepte, Entscheidungsverhalten und ökonomische Modellierung (Laufzeit 1997 - 2008)
Subject: 300 Social sciences, sociology, anthropology
Subject headings (SWD): Deutschland , Bildungsverhalten , Familiensoziologie , Sozialstatus , Eltern , Soziale Ungleichheit
Keywords (English): Educational inequality , Motive for status maintenance , Rational-choice theory , Reference point , Social status
Abstract: Several theoretical approaches assume that the motive for status maintenance, that is the desire to avoid intergenerational status downward mobility, explains educational decisions and effects of the families’ social status hereon. Not much is known about whether this assumption is empirically valid, and it is completely an open question which of the parents’ social status provides the reference point when evaluating educational options with respect to their suitability for status maintenance. We utilize data from the Mannheim Educational Panel Study to test whether the beliefs about how likely secondary school degrees ensure the maintenance of the mothers’ and fathers’ status explain the decision between school tracks leading to these degrees in Germany. We compare the explanatory power of altogether nine measures, assuming the reference status to be determined by different models about how the families’ status is mentally represented. Results have shown that the motive for status maintenance exerts in all versions significant effects on educational decisions. However, it proved to be strongest when the fathers’ status was assumed to define success in avoiding intergenerational status demotion. After controlling for the effect of this measure, direct effects of the families’ educational and occupational status were substantially reduced, but not completely explained.
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